Topic 1 : Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme
Why in news: Ministry of Tourism kicks off Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme 2023 in collaboration with Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change
- The two ministries launched an Alternative Livelihood Programme under the Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme-2023.
- Under this initiative, Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM), an autonomous body under MoT, in collaboration with MoEFCC will build the capacity of local community members around different Ramsar sites in order to strengthen nature tourism at these sites and provide alternative livelihood to the local community.
- The ‘Nature-tourism and Wetcomponent of this initiative is being implemented jointly by MoT and MoEFCC with an aim to enhance livelihood opportunities for local communities through harnessing the nature-tourism potential of the Ramsar Sites across the country.
- Priority Ramsar sites under the initiative:
- Sultanpur National Park in Uttar Pradesh
- Bhitarkanika and Chilika in Odisha and
- Yashwant Sagar and Sirpur in Madhya Pradesh
- What is Amrit Dharohar:
- Amrit Dharohar initiative, part of the 2023-24 budget announcement, was launched by MoEF&CC to promote unique conservation values of the Ramsar Sites in the country while generating employment opportunities and supporting local livelihoods.
- This initiative is to be implemented in convergence with:
- various Central Government ministries and agencies,
- State Wetland Authorities, and
- a network of formal and informal institutions and individuals.About the Ramsar Convention
- The Ramsar Convention is formally known as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat.
- It is a global treaty aimed at the preservation and sustainable use of Ramsar-designated sites.
- It is often referred to as the Convention on Wetlands and takes its name from the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the agreement was signed in 1971.
- Presently, there are 42 wetland cities situated across 17 nations around the world, with China boasting the highest number at 13 such cities.
- The Government of India ratified the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation of wetlands in 1982.
- Recently, 10 new wetlands were declared as Ramsar Sites.
- The designation of the Ramsar site recognised these areas as being of significant value and embodies the government’s commitment to take the steps necessary to ensure that its ecological character is maintained.
- Currently there are 75 Ramsar sites in IndiaTopic 2 : Vision @2047
Why in news: NITI Aayog is in the final stages of harmonising reports from secretaries of sectoral groups to prepare a blueprint for ‘Viksit Bharat @2047’.
About Vision @2047:
- It is an ambitious vision document aiming to make India a developed economy of $30 trillion by 2047.
- It is a project initiated by the NITI Aayog to create a blueprint for India’s development in the next 25 years.
- It aims to make India:
- a global leader in innovation and technology,
- a model of human development and social welfare, and
- a champion of environmental sustainability.
- The vision hinges on the idea that India will have successfully dealt with most of its post-independence problems over the next 25 years, and will need to transcend a different set of challenges:
- a middle-income trap, where the country’s per capita income may stabilise around $5,000-6,000,
- a slowdown in economic growth.
- The vision encompasses various aspects of development, including:
- economic growth,
- social progress,
- environmental sustainability, and
- good governance.
Topic 3 : Cashless Treatment Scheme in Emergency
Why in news: The Indian Railways have withdrawn the Cashless Treatment Scheme in Emergency (CTSE).
- It is a medical facility benefitting a few lakh of serving/retired employees and their dependent family members nationwide.
- It is a pilot project for providing cashless treatment in emergency in private railway empanelled hospitals.
- It was initially launched in metro cities in 2016.
- Later, the ambit of the scheme was expanded across the railway network facilitating serving/retired employees and their dependent family members to avail treatment in private hospitals in case of any emergency.
Need for withdrawal:
- The Railway Board reviewed the implementation of the scheme and after a careful deliberation took a decision to withdraw the CTSE with immediate effect.
- It was also decided that no refund would be issued to CTSE card holder for the amount that was deposited for subscription of the scheme.
- It was felt that a large number of retired beneficiarieslived in the newly developed suburbs of various cities throughout India.
- These parts of the city were often far away from the established Railway Health Institutions.
- The CTSE was rolled out and empanelled private hospitals nominated to provide necessary treatment in emergencies and raise the bill directly to the railways.Topic 4 : Green turtles
Why in news: Rising global temperatures could lead to an increase in the nesting range of green turtles in the Mediterranean Sea, as per a study in Scientific Reports.
Key findings of the study:
- Under the worst-case climate scenario, the nesting range could increase by over 60% points, spreading west from the current area to include much of the North African, Italian, and Greek coastlines.
- Human-caused climate change has caused sea surface temperatures to increase globally, with severe impacts on some marine life.
- Sea turtles are potentially particularly susceptible, as the sex of their offspring is dependent on incubation temperature.
- The study found that progressively worse climate scenarios were associated with greater increases in the nesting range in the Mediterranean.
- The study warned that this increase in green turtle nesting range in the heavily populated central and western Mediterranean would bring them into increased contact with humans and urbanised beaches, which could negatively affect nesting success.
About Green Turtle:
- The green turtle is one of the largest sea turtles and the only herbivore among the different species.
- The green sea turtle is also known as the green turtle, black sea turtle or Pacific green turtle.
- Green turtles are named for the greenish color of their cartilage and fat, not their shells.
- Green turtles are found mainly in tropical and subtropical waters.
- Like other sea turtles, they migrate long distances between feeding grounds and the beaches from where they hatched.
- IUCN status: Endangered.
- overharvesting of their eggs,
- hunting of adults,
- being caught in fishing gear and
- loss of nesting beach sites.Topic 5 : Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Why in news: The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the abrogation of Article 370 by the Centre in 2019.
- Justice Sanjay Kaul, in his opinion, recommended setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to look into alleged violations of human rights by both state and non-state actors in J&K.
- It should be based on a dialogue and not become a criminal court.
What is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?
- A Truth and Reconciliation Commission is also known as a ‘truth and justice commission’ or simply, a ‘truth commission’.
- It is an official mechanism to not just acknowledge, but also reveal, wrongdoings by a government (or sometimes non-state actors or combatants) so that conflicts of the past can be addressed and resolved.
- It has been defined as one that:
- is focused on the past, rather than in ongoing events;
- investigates a pattern of events that took place over a period of time;
- engages directly and broadly with the affected population, gathering information on their experiences;
- is a temporary body, with the aim of concluding with a final report; and
- is officially authorized or empowered by the state under review.
Which countries have had such commissions in the past?
- The two best known and most consequential commissions are considered to be the ones set up in South Africa, Australia, and Canada.
- In India’s neighbourhood, truth commissions have been set up in Sri Lanka and Nepal.
- The Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) provided those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools system.
- Some 150,000 indigenous children were removed from their families and communities to attend residential schools — with an opportunity to share their stories and experiences.
- In South Africa, the first post-apartheid government of President Nelson Mandela established a TRC in 1995 with the aim of uncovering the truth of human rights violations during the decades of apartheid, and to heal the country and bring about reconciliation with its history.
Topic 6 : Karan Singh’s Proclamation of 1949
Why in news: In upholding the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court recalled that in November 1949, Yuvraj Karan Singh, heir to the throne of Jammu and Kashmir, had issued a proclamation that reflected the full and final surrender of [J&K’s] sovereignty to India.
What was the proclamation by Karan Singh?
- Karan Singh’s proclamation stated that the Government of India Act, 1935, which until then governed the constitutional relationship between J&K and the dominion of India, will stand repealed.
- It said that the Constitution of India will govern the constitutional relationship between this State and the Union of India and shall be enforced in this State in accordance with the tenor of its provisions.
- The provisions of the said Constitution shall, as from the date of its commencement, supersede and abrogate all other constitutional provisions inconsistent therewith which are at present in force in this State.
Need for the proclamation:
- The ambiguity was over whether J&K became an integral part of India after Karan Singh’s father, Hari Singh, signed the Instrument of Accession (IoA).
- IoA is the legal document that finalised J&K’s accession to India.
- The Supreme Court’s ruling is in line with what the Centre had argued during the hearing.
- The Union government had said the 1949 proclamation accepted the supremacy of the Indian Constitution and surrendered sovereignty to it, where the sovereign was ‘We the people of India’.Topic 7 : Can Bihar increase its reservation pool?
Why in news: The Governor of Bihar approved two laws increasing the quantum of reservations in jobs and education in the State to 75%, including 20% for Scheduled Castes, 2% for Scheduled Tribes, 18% for Other Backward Classes, and 25% for Extremely Backward Classes, and 10% for economically weaker sections (EWS).
- The two laws have once again sparked debate around the permissible limits of reservations in India, particularly in view of the “50%” limit prescribed by the Supreme Court of India in the Mandal Commission case (Indra Sawhney, 1992).
- It is also in the context of the court’s emphasis on adequate representation of the oppressed classes as opposed to proportionate representation.
The 50% rule:
- The Supreme Court has historically maintained that reservations, whether in jobs or education, should not exceed 50% of the total seats/posts.
- In 1963, a seven judge bench in M.R. Balaji explained that reservations were in the nature of an “exception“ or “special provision“ under our constitutional scheme.
- Therefore, they cannot be provided for more than 50% of the posts or seats.
- Though this understanding of reservations changed in 1976 — with it being recognised that reservations are a facet of equality rather than an exception to it — the 50% limit has remained unaltered.
- A nine judge bench in the Mandal commission case in 1990 reaffirmed the 50% limit and held that it is a binding rule, and not merely a matter of prudence.
- A State can exceed the limit in exceptional circumstances, that is, to provide reservations to communities which hail from far flung areas of the country and have been kept out of the mainstream of the society.
- This is not a geographical test but a social one.
- The Supreme Court upheld the 103rd Constitutional Amendment which provides for 10% additional reservations to the EWS.
- This means, for the time being, that the 50% limit applies only to non-EWS reservations, and States are permitted to reserve a total of 60% of the seats/posts including EWS reservations.
What do laws in Bihar state?
- In January 2023, the Bihar government announced a caste based census/survey to be conducted across the State.
- The results of this Census were announced and shortly thereafter, the two laws were introduced in the Legislative Assembly.
- Aspects of these laws:
- Breach of limit:
- The first is the obvious breach of the 50% (now 60%) ceiling limit.
- If and when the laws are challenged in court, the government of Bihar will have to prove that their case falls within the exception carved out in the Mandal Commission case.
- That is, the communities to whom reservations have been granted hail from far flung areas or have been kept out of the social mainstream.
- Justification for the breach:
- The second aspect is the justification offered by the State government for this breach.
- Chief Minister of Bihar stated that the intent is to increase the quantum of reservations in view of the results of the caste Census.
- However, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the State cannot fix the quantum of reservation simply in proportion to the population of the reserved classes.
- This is because the only valid aim behind reservations is to secure “adequate” representation of the depressed classes, which is different from “proportionate” representation.
- Therefore, one major challenge before the State government will be to defend the motive behind the move.
- Breach of limit:
Other states that breached the limit:
- Other States that have already surpassed the 50% limit, even excluding the EWS quota, are:
- Chhattisgarh (72%),
- Tamil Nadu (69%, under a 1994 Act protected under the ninth Schedule of the Constitution), and
- Several north-eastern States including Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland (80% each).
- Lakshadweep has a whopping 100% reservations for Scheduled Tribes.
- Previous attempts by Maharashtra and Rajasthan have been struck down by the courts.
- The Bihar Government appears to be following the footsteps of other States that have already breached the 50% ceiling limit.
- It seems inevitable that the validity of the two Bihar laws will be carried to the Supreme Court, and the Court will be urged to reconsider the 50% ceiling limit entirely.
- It remains to be seen whether the court will be inclined to do so.Topic 8 : SR Bommai judgment
Why in news: In upholding the abrogation of Article 370, the Supreme Court on Monday relied heavily on its landmark 1994 judgement in SR Bommai v Union of India.
About the case
- In Bommai, a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court interpreted Article 356 of the Constitution to define the contours of proclamation of President’s rule.
- Article 356 contains provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in States, including that for the imposition of President’s rule.
- While all nine judges unanimously upheld the provision, the Court ruled that the President’s decision would be subject to judicial review.
- Bommai is still the settled law on when and how President’s rule can be imposed.
- It was invoked in recent cases challenging President’s rule in Uttarakhand (2016) and Arunachal Pradesh (2016), both of which were overturned by the Supreme Court.
- In 1989, the Congress government at the Centre dismissed the Janata Dal-led Karnataka government by imposing President’s rule.
- After allegedly receiving 19 letters from MLAs withdrawing their support to Chief Minister SR Bommai’s government, then Karnataka Governor P Venkatasubbaiah recommended to the President that he take over the state’s administration.
- He cited two reasons.
- First, that Bommai did not command a majority and, hence, it was inappropriate under the Constitution, for him to continue.
- Second, that no other political party was in a position to form the government.
- The SC ruling later noted that the Governor did not ascertain the view of the Chief Minister before making his report to the President.
- 7 out of the 19 legislators complained that their signatures on the aforementioned letters were obtained by misrepresentation.
- Thus, the dismissed chief minister moved the Karnataka High Court, which dismissed his challenge against the Centre.
- Then, on appeal to the apex court, a nine-judge bench was constituted.
- The SC unanimously held that the President’s proclamation can be subject to judicial review on grounds of illegality, malafide, extraneous considerations, abuse of power, or fraud.
- While the President’s subjective appraisal of the issue cannot be examined, the Court said that the material relied on for making the decision can be reviewed.
- The verdict also made Parliamentary approval necessary for imposing President’s rule.
- Only after the proclamation is approved by both Houses of Parliament can the President exercise the power.
- Till then, the President can only suspend the state legislature.
- If the Parliament does not approve the proclamation within two months, then the government that was dismissed would automatically stand revived.
- The imposition of President’s ruledrastically decreasedafter the Bommai verdict.
- Between January 1950 and March 1994, President’s Rule was imposed 100 times or an average of 2.5 times a year.
- Between 1995 and 2021, it has been imposed only 29 times or a little more than once a year.
The Kashmir reference
- The key question involved:
- Whether Article 370 could have been abrogated when the state was under President’s rule.
- The erstwhile state had been under President’s rule since 2018, and the question before the court was whether the President could give consent to the revocation of J&K’s special status.
- Here, the Supreme Court relied on the Bommai ruling to hold that the actions of the President are constitutionally valid.
- The Court said that the Bommai ruling held that the actions taken by the President after issuing a Proclamation are subject to judicial review.
- The Court cited two standards:
- One by Justice PB Sawant where the court had set the standard of whether the exercise of power was mala fide or palpably irrational, and
- Another by Justice Reddy where it had observed that the advisability and necessity of the action must be borne in mind by the President.